01/30/2013, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Vinh bishop appeals for support to petition to end one-party system

The diocese issues a statement calling on the faithful to commit to the country's development. People want "equality, freedom and democracy". Christians too must be "responsible citizens." Some 3,500 people sign in a few days, including the bishop of Than Hoa, vice president of the Bishops' Council.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/EdA) - The Catholic Church supports a petition posted recently online by intellectuals and activists in favour of a revision of the Vietnamese constitution of 1992 that would end one-party hegemony. The aim of the campaign is to give the Asian nation a multiparty system based on a division between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Many priests have added their names to the petition, clearly indicating the name of their parish, as a result of the mobilisation of the Church hierarchy, including the bishop of Vinh, northern Vietnam, who has appealed for support on the diocese's website.

As of 29 January, more than 3,500 people had signed the petition for a new constitution. They include Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, bishop of Vinh and president of the Justice and Peace Commission, and Mgr Joseph Nguyên Chi Linh, bishop of Than Hoa, vice president of the Bishops' Council of Vietnam.

Posted on a popular Vietnamese website, the petition stems from an appeal made by Vietnam's Communist authorities for "suggestions" to amend the constitution.

Former Justice Minister Nguyen Dinh Loc is among those who signed the petition. For him, it was "obvious that there must be some changes" and that it was only "a matter of how much."

The current constitution dates back to 1992 and has not been amended in the past ten years to keep up with the vast changes in the country.

For the authors of the appeal launched by the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam is in a period of transition in which people have expressed a desire for "equality, freedom and democracy".

It is necessary to be "responsible citizens", the bishop said. For this reason, no one can be exempt from doing their part to deal with the country's "economic, political social and educational problems".

Moved by one's Christian faith and a sense of civic responsibility, people must make a contribution, however small, to a strong, developed, democratic and humanist country, the prelate said.

Hence, the bishop urges people to sign the appeal by sending an e-mail to the following address, kiennghisuadoihienphap2013@gmail.com, with "name, profession, title and address".

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